IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are three of the most popular movie rating and review websites, trusted by the audience without scepticism. A large proportion of viewers rely on their ratings before deciding to explore a new film. Hence, the question arises – are these ratings, accessible by a simple Google search, completely reliable? Do they consider all the necessary factors before influencing the audience?
The fact is, the ratings on these websites are a compilation of opinions. As it holds for any collective analysis, preferences and biases play a crucial role. While most of these sites have general reviews as a collection of perspectives, others are manoeuvred by “experts” to help a potential viewer. Ideally, they should represent the population’s collective opinion on an art form. However, contradictions exist.
Let us observe the reviewers on these platforms–
IMDb– This website primarily consists of votes and reviews by the general audience. The registered users have to vote between 1 and 10, and the ‘weighted average’ of these votes results in the IMDb rating. Any new rating by the same user overrides their previous vote. Further, ratings are segmented based on demographics on the website. This platform even has a ‘prolific reviewers’ segment in its reviews section. To win that title, one has to write hundreds of reviews religiously.
Rotten Tomatoes– Ratings on this platform are influenced mainly by approved critics (both individuals and publications). To be considered as such, one has to display aspects like consistency, quality (among others) in their reviews. Besides the common users, it has two unique categories– ‘Top Critics’ and ‘Verified Audience’. The former is an approved critic, distinguished by influence and respect earned, while the latter proves that they have watched the movie. There are two sets of ratings, i.e., the Tomatometer score and the Audience Score. Among other criteria, if a film has a consistent Tomatometer score of 75% or higher, it attains a ‘Certified Fresh’ status.
Metacritic– The mighty ‘Metascore’ is solely influenced by top critics and publications. It is the “weighted average” (based on quality and overall stature) of scores by acclaimed magazines and platforms. The score keeps changing as new reviews are taken into account. The site claims to focus on quality over quantity of reviews. A movie with a score of 81 or higher achieves a must-see award if at least 15 publications have reviewed it. Metacritic, too, has ratings classified as the Metascore and a User Score.
To understand these ratings better, let us look at some of the highest-rated films on these platforms and what makes them special.
The Godfather (IMDb – 9.2, Rotten Tomatoes – 97%, Metacritic – 100)-
The unexplored underworld— The Godfather summarised in two words. However, it is not only the hushed secrets of the Mafia that have charmed the audiences through the decades. It is the changed perspective and a new look into Mafia films that make this movie one of its kind.
The film takes its audience into a different, carefully crafted world, where “every character has a distinct appeal.” It is a brilliant work of its time, and good direction highlights all the aspects of the movie. “Violence, dark humour” and intense interactions between characters are classic when referring to The Godfather. Every speech, gesture, and expression has subtlety which adds to the rich viewing experience. The dialogues by Don Vito Corleone have stuck to the minds of the audience. Indeed, “it is the projection of a myth rather than a fact”– the audience is hopeful that the situation will be better when young Michael takes over (contrary to the cruel activities of Don Corleone).
A significant factor in the appeal of the entire film is irony— despite their questionable ways, the loyalty within the family is undeniable. It makes us wonder; perhaps they are not that despicable after all.
No movie is complete without the right casting, cinematography and soundtrack. The Godfather checks all these boxes, providing the ultimate experience. It has been described as “a three-hour film that thunders by like it was only 90 minutes.”
“It gets better with each viewing”– this statement is popular among the majority of viewers. The Godfather has been called a “monument” in the world of critics and filmmakers. The numerous award-winning films are incredibly faithful to the novel. In addition, the “balanced characters” make the three-hour film engaging throughout. A critical and commercial success, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest movies of all time, with close to no flaws.
Parasite (IMDb – 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes – 98%, Metacritic – 96)-
A nerve-wracking masterpiece released in 2019, Parasite explores the class-driven construct of modern society—the role money plays in societal standings. Director Bong Joon-ho has the knack to “let us feel pity for a character and laugh at him (a little) at the same time.”
The movie is about a low-income family and how it turns around its condition—in a peculiar fashion. Metaphors are woven through the story, for example, “the poor are always shown climbing down the stairs to enter their home, while the rich climb up.”
The film is full of twists, especially Kim Ki-Tae’s (The father) fate, as he was initially the weakest character. However, the best twist is the bold presentation of society in the most dauntingly honest way. This, along with the careful curation of each frame leaves the viewers in awe.
Though there are varying opinions about the plot build-up, character temperaments and the climax twist seem to affect most reviews. It is story-telling at its finest, engaging the audience and instilling a plethora of emotions in them.
There are numerous interpretations about intangible aspects in the film, such as the factor of “smell”– the audience could almost smell certain scenes. Moreover, the interpretation of the title “Parasite” is a topic of much discussion among viewers and critics alike.
All in all, the general consensus is that Parasite is an “engaging Drama” with a “social aspect”. Indeed it is a movie that will be talked about for years and perhaps even come to be considered a classic.
The Shawshank Redemption (IMDb – 9.3, Rotten – 91%, Metacritic – 80)-
The film has been praised for its wholesome aspect. It is a classic and ultimately highlights the essence of freedom. Even the early reviewers predicted that this Stephen King short story converted to a fable would be popular for years to come. One viewer went so far as to say, “Shawshank redeems Hollywood”.
The movie in itself tells a simple story about the transformation in a person. As bold as the title sounds, it is a spiritual journey—the more you watch, the more your heart sings. The movie appeals to anyone watching it, leaving a smile on their face and a couple of tears in their eyes.
Points for negative criticism include deviation from pragmatism. According to some critics, the movie plays on sentimentality, nostalgia, and “wanders down subplots” and even “ignores the opportunity of narrative exit points.” The film also received a few remarks on the easy dismissal of crimes committed by the prisoners portrayed as good people. However, this also reflects the essence of humanity and gives slight hope that perhaps we all have positive attributes despite our vices.
Despite its primarily positive reviews and numerous awards, the Shawshank Redemption did not perform well commercially. The film was a simple tale about prison life and hope, with little to no action and did not appeal to most audiences during its time of release. More than two hours of running time, it mainly was an observation of the different people’s lives and their mundane routine in prison. Moreover, the film also was competing with star-studded movies like Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump.
Overall, the film showcasing the beauty of life—has received worldwide recognition now due to appreciation by the majority. Many viewers call the movie “Stephen King’s best-adapted movie” and an “unforgettable masterpiece”. Qualities of the human spirit and liberation in the film make it appealing to its present-day audience.
The Lion King (IMDb – 8.5, Rotten – 93%, Metacritic – 88)
The opening scene of ‘The Lion King’ is one of the most iconic scenes in Disney’s history. The Circle of Life marks the beginning of the movie with the announcement of Simba’s birth. Indeed we have all enacted this scene at home with our beloved pets.
The story balances the jungle rules, the reality of the jungle and a fantasy about the jungle. At the same time, it also reflects real-world politics and the greed for power. In foresight, movie critics feel that the movie was more intense than a regular Disney children’s movie; acting like a life lesson for children—a story of betrayal and courage.
The masterfully crafted characters leave a deep impression on the audience. Last, but not least, the musical numbers add to the delight of children and parents alike. Most viewers agree that the lion king is a timeless classic that “brings tears to your eyes, no matter the age.”.
The movie is entirely animated by hand, contrary to the computer animation in 2019. Most critics agree that nothing beats the lure of the hand-drawn figures as they bring the gentleness of Mufasa, Simba’s playfulness and Scar’s manipulative nature.
It is universally agreed upon by the critics and the viewers that the film is “emotionally stirring, richly drawn and beautifully animated”. It is enjoyed even today by audiences with nostalgia and wonder. Some viewers even call it “The pinnacle of Disney”.
Knives Out (IMDb – 7.9, Rotten – 97%, Metacritic – 82)-
This murder mystery is known for its clever plot that grips the audience throughout. The style of the movie evokes memories of an older era, and the script, in a way, is a cunning response to today’s world. It has a modern twist that may even be predicted, but the turn of events and entertainment throughout cannot be taken away. The ‘whodunit’ has elements like hilarity, the avarice of the rich, and an interesting family tree– with each having a plausible motive to kill.
A truly enrapturing film, Knives Out is a work of pure entertainment that keeps the audience on its toes even after the end of the movie. The undertones of class differences and strained relationships are woven carefully with the mysterious death of wealthy novelist Harlan Thrombey, unravelling the most incredible plot.
Rian Johnson directs a stellar ensemble into the classic movie with a touch of modern elegance. The characters are enigmatic; you have a love-hate relationship with each of them, not knowing when the betrayal strikes and knives are out. Benoit Blanc takes the entire movie forward, the only willing person to play the game set up by Thrombey.
The entire movie is set in a single place, keeping the storyline focused on the family and the murder. It is a visual wonder. Receiving praises from both critics and audiences, it is a mastermind crowd-pleaser.
“Too much enthusiasm from the critics can hurt a movie sometimes.” This statement is quite pertinent for Knives Out (especially in reviews on IMDb). People went to watch the movie with preconceived ideas. According to some, the cast was “woefully unused”, while some found the mystery quite predictable. One said that it seemed “like a recycled plot from a lesser Agatha Christie novel.”
Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse (IMDb – 8.4, Rotten – 97%, Metacritic – 87)-
The ensemble is said to represent a true Comic universe. It portrays mainstream animation in a manner that viewers found enjoyable. “It managed to be funny, fun, engaging, and enjoyable all the way through.” We often associate animated characters with their voice characters. Bringing out the comedy, the voice performances were “top-notch”, with the right timing and emotions.
Humour is an appealing aspect of the film. The movie adds a “sense of playfulness” to the characters, unlike the previous Spider-Man films. It is described as one of the “wittiest” and “most creatively exuberant” movies. “The filmmaking itself is often witty, finding gigs in whip-crack editing and shifts in perspective.”
How joyful is it to find that our beloved Peter Parker is not the only spider-man? The film takes fighting for the world to the next level with the introduction of many realms.
Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse “never runs out of breath” –the movie is joy and creativity personified, child-like fascination for all. Unlike the other Marvel movies, the comic book-inspired story-telling makes the books come alive.
A factor that irked several reviewers was that the film received a little too much recognition, considering the storyline isn’t “particularly innovative”. Another angle to view this is that the movie did not abandon “the basics” of the Spider-Man series. There are a lot of debates as to whether or not it is “the best Spider-Man movie ever made.”
3 Idiots (IMDb – 8.4, Rotten – 100%, Metacritic – 67)-
Being a Hindi movie, 3 Idiots does not have a large pool of votes on international platforms. IMDb has the most ratings, while Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are based on 13 and 4 reviews, respectively.
The movie is a classic Bollywood comedy, where two friends search for a long lost companion from college. Some say that it had an “emotional whiplash”, but there is certainly a smile on one’s face after watching the movie. According to some, “It is a masterpiece and the greatest Bollywood movie of all time.”.
3 Idiots is a social commentary, resonating with people trying to find their calling. What makes it stand out is how the movie calls out to Indian stereotypes and the importance of grades in the lives of students. It talks about success and the unconventional ways to achieve it.
It highlights the importance of friendship and appeals to everyone with the phrase– “All Izz Well”. At the same time, it portrays all sides of college life—the good and bad.
Some say that the twist in the film is foreseeable, and the storyline isn’t compelling.”(The film) may be de rigueur for those who are regulars for Bollywood cinema”, said one reviewer. However, it is widely considered a fan favourite and sends out a powerful message—do what works for you and, more importantly, do what you love.
Movies are experiences. We experience the characters, their stories and their emotions. When all these factors come to play beautifully with the help of innovative direction, screenplay, dialogues, acting, and everything in between, does a movie become a masterpiece. The essence of a film lies in its story-telling. All the movies in the article may not have the most captivating themes or storylines, but what makes them undeniably excellent lies in their innovative narration.
Some movies perform better commercially, some replay in our hearts repeatedly, others take over with multiple watches, but all of them transport us to another world. Some films leave us angry, some bring a surreal smile, and others leave us bawling or laughing uncontrollably, but all of them connect us to the characters.
There is no way to say which is the best film. Every individual considers a film near and dear to their heart, be it a critically acclaimed masterpiece or a nostalgic guilty pleasure. Hence, the sheer beauty of a film lies in the fact that there is no ultimate review. After all, one cannot possibly measure a collection of perspectives. A first-hand experience can only be enlightening, and as for the ratings, they are solely up to the viewer.
Written by Parva Mehrotra and Archana S for MTTN
Edited by Anika Shukla for MTTN
Featured Image by Arnav Agarwal for MTTN
Images via Google Images